Kansas JOE McCOY










The McCoy brothers, Joe and younger brother Charlie were two of the most accomplished blues accompanists of their time. Both could probably have made it as frontline solo artists but preferred their role as blues sidesmen. Joe achieved further notoriety of a sort by becoming the second husband of legendary blues lady, Memphis Minnie.

Blues guitarist Kansas Joe McCoy was born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1905, and taught himself guitar when he was a teenager. He moved to Memphis when he was twenty years old, soon joining the Beale Street Jug Band. It was at this time that he met up with Memphis Minnie, and after they were married they moved to Chicago where Joe accompanied Minnie on some of her best-known numbers. Following his divorce from Minnie after six years of marriage, Joe, with brother Charlie, formed the Harlem Hamfats and had regular recording success in the final years of the 1930’s. In the 1940’s he formed Big Joe and his Rhythm but he did not enjoy the same level of success as he did with the Hamfats. Kansas Joe McCoy died in 1950 aged 44.

Younger brother Charlie was born in Jackson in 1909, and like his older brother he also taught himself to play blues guitar. By the end of his teenage years he was recording regularly, accompanying artists such as Mississippi Sheiks’ star Walter Vinson, Rubin Lacey and Son Spand. During the 1930’s he accompanied sister-in-law Memphis Minnie, occasionally on mandolin, during some of her recording sessions. For a while he led his own group, Papa Charlie’s Boys, before joining Joe in the Harlem Hamfats. The 1940’s were lean years for Charlie and he died in 1950 aged 41, just six months after the death of brother Joe.